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The Untouchable Politician

by Martin Green


     Teddy Horne, a California State Senator, was in his Capitol office early this Friday. His staff wouldn’t be in for another hour, with the exception of Rose Doyle. He’d asked Rose, an 18-year-old summer intern, to come in for a special job, and there she was, pretty face shining, a pen and pad on the alert, ready to do his bidding. “You know, you’re a good-looking girl, Rose,” said Horne, taking off his jacket.

     “Thank you,” said Rose, blushing.

     Horne put a hand to Rose’s cheek. “Don’t be embarrassed. You have beautiful eyes.”

     “What was the job you wanted me to do, Senator?” asked Rose.

     “The job? Oh, don’t worry about that.” Horne put his hand on one of Rose’s breasts. She immediately jumped back.

     “What are you doing?”

     “You know what I’m doing. You want me to do it, don’t you?”

     “No. Leave me alone."  When Horne grabbed at her again, she slapped his face.

     “Damnit, you bitch,” he said. He grappled with her and her blouse ripped.  

     “I’ll scream,” yelled Rose. “Let me go or I’ll tell everyone.”

     Horne released his grip. “Okay, get out of here, bitch. You aren’t worth it. And if you do tell anyone I’ll deny it and make your life miserable. And, by the way, you’re fired.” Sobbing and trying to hold her blouse together, Rose ran from the office.

     Horne sat down at his desk. What was wrong with the girl? He had his little fling with the summer intern every year and until now none of them had seemed to mind it. Hell, it was common knowledge. He knew his fellow pols joked that the reason he kept his desk clean was because he liked to do it there. The little interns were grateful that a powerful man like himself even noticed them. As for Rose, if she gave him any trouble, he’d smear her up and down, and her family, too.   He was a State Senator. He was untouchable.

                                               *               *               * 

     The rest of Horne’s morning was uneventful and reminded him that the job of being a State Senator could be pretty boring. It was a wonder that guys like himself went into politics, he thought.   Well, there were compensations. During the middle of the morning, one of the Capitol’s many lobbyists dropped in, discussed a certain vote his client would appreciate and passed a fully packed envelope across Horne’s desk. A little later, Horne’s chief-of-staff came in with the news that they’d dug up some dirt on his potential rival in the next election. “Good work,” said Horne. But mostly it was attending to a few letters (had to keep the voting slobs happy) and buttering up a few of his campaign contributors. Luckily he was getting away for the weekend, out of the sweltering capitol and up to the cool mountains. 

     Horne left shortly before noon and had lunch at his club. He liked to eat there because, as a State Senator, everyone deferred to him, as they should. One of his hangers-on asked about a bill that had been introduced to aid the homeless. “Think it will pass?”

     “Not a chance,” said Horne, lighting up a cigar. “We’ll kill it in committee. Homeless people don’t vote.” He laughed and the others duly echoed him.

     Another hanger-on asked about the rumor that a federal probe of the legislature was in the making. “There’s a rumor about that every year,” replied Horne. “It’ll come to nothing.”

     “You’re not worried the feds might target you?”

     “They’d love to, but I have so much dirt on everyone they wouldn’t have the nerve. Hell. I’m untouchable.”  He looked at his watch. “Well, I have to pick up my Jag and then go up to Congressman Wheeler’s place for dinner and some kind of party.”

     “The Congressman, huh?  Setting your sights on something higher, like Washington?”

     “Who knows?” Horne winked. He threw some bills on the table, stood up and left.

                                                      *               *               *

     “Your car’s all ready to go, Senator,” said Mac, the manager of the shop which serviced Horne’s classic Jaguar.

     “That rattle’s all gone?”

     “Yes, sir. Pat, our best mechanic, worked on it. Took it out for a test drive and it runs smooth as silk.”

     “It should. You guys charge me enough.” Horne loved his Jaguar, but it was constantly needing repair for one thing or another. Well, he could afford it.

     Two hours later, Horne was driving in the mountains on his way to Congressman Wheeler’s place. Mac had been right.  The Jag sped along, effortlessly hugging the curves of the mountain road. It was a pleasure to drive. The air was cool, the trees on the side of the road a brilliant green, in contrast to the hot, brown valley. He felt a twinge of annoyance when he recalled the scene with that stupid intern early in the morning. If she did tell anyone, he’d easily squash her. He and his staff were experts in smearing people. He was untouchable.

     His thoughts turned to another young staffer in his office, not as pretty as Rose but good enough; and she was ambitious, she’d give him no trouble. His cell phone rang. “Senator Horne,” he said.

     “Hi, Senator. This is Pat, the mechanic. I worked on your car. How’s it driving?”

     “Beautifully.”

     “Good. Try the brakes.”

     “Why?”

     “Just try them.”

     Horne pressed down on the brake. The car didn’t slow down. He pressed harder. The brake sank to the floor, but the car still sped along. “What the hell. The damned brakes don’t work.”

     “Thanks.   Oh, by the way, Senator, my last name’s Doyle; you know, the same as my sister Rose, who worked in your office. Good-bye.”

                                                  *               *               *

     Congressman Wheeler checked his watch. “Well, I guess Horne’s not going to show up,” he said. “We might as well go in to dinner.”

     “Wonder what happened to him?”said someone.

     “You know Horne,” someone else said.  “He’s probably busy playing around with one of his interns and forgot the time.”



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